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The Walking Dead Premiere Review

AMC fans may have been in for a tad bit of a shock last night when they tuned into The Walking Dead. I’m not berating such critical darlings like Mad Men and Breaking Bad (and have only seen about three episodes between the two) but I’m pretty sure a horse was never mutilated and devoured in the middle of a city street in either program. Although the first shock might have been where some viewers decided to tune out (scaredy-cats), in which our hero, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), while looking for gas is forced to shoot a charging nine year old turned zombie (here called walkers, understandably) in the head. It’s shocking, violent, and was basically the show telling you, “If you didn’t like that, then get ready, because there’s a whole lot more where that came from.”

Just a man looking for his family in the apocalypse

As a faithful, if not fairly new, reader to The Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman I was expecting the pilot to cover more ground than it did, to meet a few more characters than were shown. We see Rick waking up, finding a father-son zombie killing team, and eventually make his way to Atlanta, which is supposedly a military outpost full of food, water and safety. But I came around to the slightly slow pacing and low key feel of it all. These long pauses of silence (for there are numerous, actually I can barely remember music playing except the very end) perfectly lead into the sudden and dramatic acts of zombie mutilation. Be it by a simple and clean headshot or all out attack with a baseball bat.

Kirkman’s comics constantly made the idea of zombies chasing you scary and intense, and I think the TV series has captured that state of constant paranoia. To be honest, when Rick was winding his way through a group of wrecked cars within two minutes of the show’s premiere, I was convinced something would pop out and attack him (that long stretch of silence again helping immensely, it just sets off something in your mind that makes you convinced a loud noise is about to happen). Director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist) and Gale Anne Hurd (producer of The Terminator and Aliens) manged to take that aspect of a simple, quiet fear that something is about to happen and it will NOT be good for our heroes, which the comic beautifully exemplified, and put it on our TV screens.

A face only a decaying and mutilated zombie-mom could love

Eventually we get a glimpse of Rick’s lost family: Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl (Chandler Riggs). They’ve somehow found a rag-tag group of survivors and are stationed just outside of Atlanta. This is where the meat and potatoes of the drama and subplots will unfold, hinted at in the pilot by showing Lori cuddling up to Rick’s best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal). Rick eventually uses his radio trying to reach anyone nearby relaying his plan to go to Atlanta, and the group hears him. Some mention sinisterly how they need to warn people away from the city. Unfortunately, Rick can’t hear anything they say to get the message of warning. Not good.

Making his way through the car riddled and abandoned streets of Atlanta, he eventually turns a corner to find an entire city block chock full of the walkers. His horse doesn’t make it, but Rick manages to climb into a tank and barricade himself in. Despite my knowledge of everything that happens in the comics (and it seems like the creators are going to be pretty faithful to character arcs and subplots) the slight cliffhanger ending still managed to make me nervous. “Hey asshole. Yeah, you in the tank” a voice emanates from a CB radio near Rick, the camera then zooming out over his temporary protection to show crowds, and I mean crowds, of the walkers banging down on the tank. Leaving Rick to wonder who exactly is talking to him, and us to figure out how he could possibly get out of that scrape. It’s a great way to bait people who were on the fence along to the next episode.

Atlanta, it seems, is not so safe anymore

I hope, I really really hope, that The Walking Dead manages to find a loyal viewership. The fact that it managed to thoroughly entertain my mom, whom I honestly don’t know has ever even watched a single zombie movie, definitely attests to the high quality and overall polish the show exudes. Yeah it has the fanboys, and maybe a few who will watch anything AMC puts out, but the violence and adult themes will definitely turn some off. On the other hand, a show like True Blood on HBO manages to keep a huge viewing audience every season and that show makes Dead look like Sesame Street. We’ll just have to rest easy for now, knowing that AMC has ordered six episodes of the show to start off.

So what did you think of the premiere of The Walking Dead? If you were a fan of the comics, did you feel it honored them well?

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  • Madcrazylooney

    I am a fan of the comics and i have to say i was extremely disappointed in this show.

    • Matthew Elliott

      agreed

  • elizabeth Miller

    I loved it. I’m sort of fingers-crossed about it turning out to have that character-driven elegance and fight, kill, run suspense that had me enthralled with BSG for a few seasons.

    Add in some strong female characters and allow it to unfold at a slower pace (like Rubicon) and I’m sold!

    {disclaimer: I’ll watch about any zombie flick or show.}

  • Paul

    Loved it! Have not read the comic and dont plan on it…If it was the exact same as comic series what would be the sense of making a t.v. series of it.The comic is obviously the foundation of a very scary show

  • Taksaha

    Huge fan of the comic and really liked the pilot. I hope the show continues to capture the essence of the comic – that it isn’t a story about zombies, but about people: what they’re able to do, what they will do for each other.

  • Jay

    I think this is probably going to be one of the first “drama” type series I will ever watch, or atleast be interested in. I love the whole zombie apocalypse theme, it’s why I put it to record on DVR, but while watching it I found myself feeling sympathy for the characters, especially the boy and his father. The drama seems like it’s gonna play a large interesting part.

    One thing that’s going to irk me, but not be anything serious is the major plot holes it showed thus far. First one being the deputy searching for gas all over, despite there being dozens of abandoned cars around him..why didn’t he simply siphon gas from one? Then if you notice when he leaves the hospital..there’s a perfectly intact un-damage helicopter right there, then, the guy passed (and even climbed into one for shelter) multiple tanks, yet he chose to let the horse be brutally murdered aside from driving one of the tanks.

    I don’t know if they’ll address these issues in later episodes, regardless I still think it’ll manage to keep my interest, due to the zombie theme.

    • i actually thought the exact same thing with the gas cans and siphoning it from the dozens and dozens of cars around him. oh well, small gripe.

    • Brian Heitzenrater (FrehleyzComet)

      Well unless you’re extremely proficient at the controls, I don’t think the average person (even a cop) could fly a helicopter or drive a tank without prior experience. So I don’t see why that is a plot hole. After all, this isn’t the movies. :p

  • Diane Snider

    I loved the show and so did my husband — who is not a zombie fan at all. He was somewhat shocked at the violence, but we will definitely follow this show. Hope it is renewed!

  • casey

    love zombie movies, loved this
    show, hope its a hit.

  • Brian Heitzenrater (FrehleyzComet)

    I just watched it (hooray for dvr’s) and I loved it! Great set-up to a great series! Can’t wait until next weekend. 😀

  • Matthew Elliott

    I love the comics and I was pretty disappointed with the episode. I really felt at times it was poorly directed and poorly acted.

    That being said around the half way point the show did begin to pick up and get better and I do think the series will be good as a whole.

  • D. D. Smith

    Love the comics, really enjoyed the tv adaptation. I hate tv, but this will be the show that makes me tune in. Unless they screw it up somehow…

  • John McMahon (VastManatee)

    My buddy texted me, “Walking Dead first episode is up on Hulu. Thank me later.”

    I guess I have to watch it now.

  • Piecar

    I’m surprised anyone who reads the comic could be disappointed with the episode. It’s basically an exact retelling of the first issue. I thought it was great. I thought the makeup was good. I thought the pathos was terrific. Rick’s moment when he tries to wake himself up was believable….and Morgan Jones’ moment in the window with his Undead wife in his crosshairs was powerful tv. Not the kind of thing that often happens in zombies movies. And the ending was dramatic. I can’t imagine what else someone would expect from the genre or the show? Fireworks? A massage?

    I am all about the zombies. I’ve seen every movie (that I can find) I’ve read every issue of this series. I am no neophyte. This was good television.

    A very very good start, in my opinion.

  • its brill,i love it made me cry even scared which only 39 days of nights can do and great acting effects just great